Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham – Match Preview
After their Europa League exertions on Thursday what state will Tottenham be in by the time they kick off against Fulham on Sunday? Spurs were given a pasting by Inter Milan at the San Siro but somehow managed to sustain their European existence courtesy of Emmanuel Adebayor’s extra time goal. That additional 30 minutes, plus the travel time, will have hampered Andre Villas-Boas preparations for the visit of their capital rivals and he’ll have to guard against fatigue. One plus point is the return of Gareth Bale, who missed the trip to Italy because of suspension. A refreshed and fully recharged Bale should be a useful weapon for Villas-Boas as he attempts to pick his side up after defeat at Liverpool last week ended their 12-game unbeaten run.
Fulham’s chances of taking something away from White Hart Lane will rest on former Tottenham favourite Dimitar Berbatov. The stat rolled out before every one of their recent fixtures is that they’ve never lost when Berbatov has found the net. For Martin Jol, also returning to his former club, the Bulgarian is the focal point of his team and if they can get him into the game enough he will cause damage. That being said the Cottagers have struggled on the road their travels, racking up two wins from 14, and are winless at Spurs in the last decade. With that in mind it’s doubtful Jol would turn his nose up at taking a point back home to West London.
Aaron Lennon (hamstring) should feature for Tottenham, who have a fresh Gareth Bale back after he was suspended for the Europa League clash with Inter Milan on Thursday.
Steve Sidwell has shaken off a knock and could feature for Fulham but Mahamadou Diarra (knee) looks set to miss the remainder of the season.
What the managers said…
“I’m not sure it sets a pattern for the future. We speak about the game between Manchester United and Real Madrid and had United won they would have been in a good position to go on and win the trophy. Barcelona have won it three times since 2006 but we’ve still had Chelsea and United winning it in recent years. These questions come about because we demand more teams to be involved in the later stages but there isn’t a pattern. It changes every single year. We would have wanted to see more because it doesn’t look very good for the English teams but it can change. I don’t imagine Premier League teams will stop being able to compete in the Champions League. We had last year’s winners in Chelsea and not so long ago [in 2008] Manchester United, too.” Andre Villas-Boas believes leading Tottenham into the Champions League will illustrate the Premier League’s strength (London Evening Standard)
“I hope Bale will stay at Spurs because it’s a very good club for him. Spurs have been getting better and better so why shouldn’t he stay there? They have a big support, they’re a big club with a big fan base and he could be a legend there. Being linked with going abroad is always nice but it could be a risk. When I look at other players from England or from Holland – big players - who have done that it doesn’t always come off. Whatever he decides to do he will have a big future because he is the best player in the Premier League at the moment.” Martin Jol admits he hopes Gareth Bale stays at Spurs (West London Sport)
Pre-Match Statistic: Fulham haven’t won a White Hart Lane since a Barry Hayles brace secured a 3-0 victory in 2003.x
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Fulham